Elizabeth woke up from her nap and pulled her almost-too-short hair back with the hairband she kept on her wrist. She felt bloated and had to squeeze into her fat jeans. Whatever. In any event, she was just taking her dog for a walk.

“Let’s go, Charlie!” He jumped up and she reached down to clamp the leash to his collar.

Dusk agreed with her. She no longer needed her sunglasses and the ocean air provided a gentle breeze. “This will be a good for us.” Her loving hound looked up and licked her wrist. “I love you too.” They took the usual path. In about a mile, the concrete path would opened up to a boardwalk that paralleled the beach.

After several peaceful minutes, she felt something extraordinarily different. She couldn’t put her finger on it. Charlie seemed content, so she didn’t worry. The path lights flickered on as dusk shifted away. 

“Oh! Weird. I haven’t seen anyone since we left the house, Charlie.”
He didn’t respond, but he did look up when she said his name. 

The air was thick with silence. She realized she didn’t hear the airplanes making their way to the nearby airport. “Charlie. What is going on?” She took in her environment. On either side of the path was grass, lined by layers of trees. She heard no birds, squirells or any other wildlife hustling around. Odd. She squinted through the trees. Hrm, usually she could at least catch glimpses of light peeking out through the green.

She pulled her phone from her pocket to call Julie, her best friend. This was spooky and she needed a reality check.

No signal.

She shrugged, “Well Boy, either I’ve gone over the cuckoo’s nest, or there’s something really weird goin’ on.”  Charlie moved closer to her, and rubbed his body against her leg as they walked. She smiled and kept on toward the beach.

The path lamps flickered off.

Charlie whimpered and sat down. She looked down, “Come on, boy. We’re almost there.”

He wouldn’t budge.

She impulsively unlatched his leash. He was a good dog, and always stuck around.

This time, he took off into the woods.

“CHARLIE!!!!” She heard him barking, and cursed the darkness. “COME HERE BOY!!!” Then, she heard the last thing she ever wanted to hear. A painful Charlie howl. She screamed for him as she ran into complete darkness. She followed his howls until suddenly, he stopped.

“Charlie?” she hesitantly kept forward momentum. Nothing.

She turned in circles. She didn’t know what to do. 

Then she stopped, much like a deer five seconds before, “BAM * CRASH * POW” into an unsuspecting car.

Get yourself together. she pulled her phone out of her pocket and searched for the flashlight app. She tapped it and shined it into the darkness.

She saw nothing, yet her hands were shaking. She dropped the phone. Face down. She lowered herself to the ground and tried not to think about the maybe snakes.

She gasped and sat down. She felt around her, and located her phone.

She looked up, feeling a presence and was surprised to see two red eyes. She slowly shined the app light, “Charlie? Is that you?”

It growled. Suddenly, she was in self-preservation mode, noting that she’s a “flight response” kinda girl.

She slowly rose to her feet and hauled ass.

The beast was snapping at her tail. She increased her pace. Finally, she was back on the path, and the light of the moon restored her vision. She turned her head back, and nearly tripped when she realized her aggressor was Charlie.

A demon Charlie. Charlie, but bigger, bloodier, burlier, and he was CHASING her. She stopped and turned. “Charlie, Baby. What happened ? Come here…” Charlie also stopped, crouched and stared her down with his lips pulled back in a snarl. Her voice trembled, “Oh my God, what happened?”  He slowly approached her and settled in the middle of the path. He stared. “OKAY! Well, Fuck.” she turned from him and took off down the path, not at all sure of her direction. She realized that Charlie was herding her. Great. I’ve gone psycho.

Ah, relief! She reached the boardwalk.

She folded over and heaved. Chubby girls should never be chased by their rabid almost dog in their almost neighborhood.

The beach was ahead; hotels lined the boardwalk. Surely there would be people.

She rose and peered over her shoulder to see demon Charlie trotting up behind her. A shiver trickled down her spine. This is my dog on Satan steroids. Convinced he wouldn’t harm her, she attempted to make sense of her surroundings.

She instantly realized two things:

1. No people on the boardwalk. What. The. Hell.
2. No waves crashing? What the fuck? 

She scolded herself for the F bombs, and walked across the boardwalk. She stepped on the sand. She heard what she suspected was Charlie behind her. She looked back and he snarled and continued to herd her closer to the silent water. She didn’t care.

Wait. What?

What she saw in front of her was not the ocean.

What she saw was sand and then… nothing.

Nothing.

I have lost my mind.

She inched forward and as she neared toward nothing, she looked down. Thump. Thump. Her heart might explode. Of that, she was nearly certain.

A deep gorge replaced the ocean, and in it was spitting sun-like fire. She couldn’t think, scream, cry or feel fear. Her body began to vibrate, as she hummed nervously. She slowly turned to see Charlie snoozing behind her in all of his demon dog glory. Well the traitor picked a fine time to take a nap.

“Turn around, Elizabeth.”

“Huh?” She turned back to the space that should contain water, dolphins, boats and other oceany things and saw the most repulsively handsome sight she’d ever seen. In front of her, standing on a glowing frozen flame, over the hole where the ocean was, stood a regent pale man clothed in a white robe. His eyes radiated the purest blue she’d ever seen. He held a large staff with a serpent coiled around it. On his left was a goat and on his right was a blue peacock. He smiled.

“Elizabeth. My love. You will wake up and remember everything. Ponder me. I will meet you again soon.”

“I… um… are you… God?” He laughed heartily and she slumped forward and collapsed in the sand and out of consciousness.

Elizabeth woke on her couch. She looked around, saw her phone on the table, and Charlie on the floor beside her. Whoa, a dream. Charlie sat up and licked her hand. She giggled and reached for her phone. Julie is not going to believe this. As she brought her phone to life, she realized the flashlight app was on and passed out for (perhaps) the second time that day.

… to be continued…

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